Protesters assail changes at WBAI radio
Published May 10, 2009 3:53 PM
Some 100 WBAI radio supporters and listeners, many of them activists in
anti-racism, workers’ and pro-liberation movement organizations in the
New York area, gathered April 29 on just two days’ notice outside the
station’s Wall Street offices. They were there to protest recent proposed
changes in the station’s management and support WBAI general manager Tony
Riddle and program director Bernard White, both Black men threatened with
WBAI’s Program Director
Bernard White defends
WW photo: John Catalinotto
Pacifica Radio’s WBAI, located in the center of the FM dial in the New
York region, potentially reaches 20 million listeners. That makes it valuable
and attractive to those who want to turn it into a profit-making enterprise or
sell it, as nearly happened during the Dec. 25, 2000, “Christmas
It is also the only broadcast medium in the region that gives voice to the
Black Liberation and other revolutionary movements, as well as a broad and
diverse array who counter the dominant ruling-class culture. Activist Pam
Africa, Suzanne Ross of New York’s local committee supporting Mumia
Abu-Jamal and revolutionary lawyer Lynne Stewart all expressed their support
for Riddle, White and WBAI.
International Action Center co-director Sara Flounders and the December 12
Movement’s Omowale Clay, both WBAI local board members, were there. WBAI
producers whose voices all listeners would recognize, like labor reporter Mimi
Rosenberg, Francis Scott Keys, Bob Lederer and Don Debar, and Daniel Vila, who
produces one of WBAI’s Spanish-language shows, spoke at the protest. Nia
Bediaquo was the one Pacifica board member present.
Pacifica’s interim executive director Grace Aaron had issued an order to
lock out WBAI personnel from the station’s transmitter and install
remote-control broadcasting equipment, threatening the control of the local
board. Aaron also approved the maneuver by the current majority of the local
WBAI board to fire Riddle and White at an “executive session”
without an official and thorough hearing. The board majority blamed the two for
mismanagement based on WBAI’s financial problems.
Supporters of Riddle and White point out that the capitalist crisis has hurt
all nonprofit organizations and many giant capitalist monopolies as well. To
blame WBAI’s financial difficulty on the two Black managers without a
thorough investigation is a reactionary attack on equality and solidarity.
While WBAI should be stabilized financially, they say it must also maintain and
deepen its roots in the many communities of New York that suffer oppression in
this capitalist society.
To help defend WBAI, see www.justiceunity.org.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE